Regrouping after the hack

By Joshua Torres
Posted 11/14/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – On Oct. 10, a computer virus being carried via email was discovered to have made its rounds through the Clay County community and infiltrated several computers of county and …

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Regrouping after the hack

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – On Oct. 10, a computer virus being carried via email was discovered to have made its rounds through the Clay County community and infiltrated several computers of county and city officials.

The email, which had the subject line “For Your Approval,” contained an attached PDF file that took those who opened it to a link that allowed the virus to be spread further to allow hacking to occur.

The hack attempt was discovered early on and allowed its recipients to enact a fix before too much damage could be done.

“When you have great staff who are trained for this sort of activity, they can respond quickly and effectively and protect our networks and other related systems,” said Steve Kennedy, city manager of Green Cove Springs.

A number of Green Cove Springs employees’ computers received the virus, which then took liberties and began emailing other computers at random. Some of the virus recipients had no reason to be contacted by the sender, but curiosity can become heightened by receiving an attachment.

With all of the advances in technology, computer users continue to wonder how are viruses still possible? This is apparently a growing trend in the eyes of IT professionals as hackers are using new techniques to get information needed.

Blake Dowling, CEO Aegis Business Technologies in Tallahassee, said they are seeing more and more of these types of attacks on companies.

“They’re using social engineering to generate attacks,” said Dowling.

He said, in the past, he might get one company calling about this type of virus maybe once a week but now they get calls everyday about potential hack attempts.

We have all seen the email from the Nigerian prince who needs our help in their country or our great great great uncle passed away that no one seemed to ever mention but knew you well enough to leave you as the benefactor of their estate, as long as you send a little collateral beforehand.

Hackers are becoming smarter and know that most computer users are not going to be fooled by such schemes anymore. Dowling said hackers are becoming more sophisticated and are creating these types of attacks. He said hackers will create an email and essentially personalize it for the unsuspecting party to open.

Dowling said a hacker might use a company’s public relations person to initiate an attack by sending emails with their account that might say something like, “Here are the resumes you requested.” An unsuspecting person wouldn’t think twice about this and would open it.

In April 2011, Sony’s Playstation Network and Qriocity platforms were subjected to an external intrusion that completely shut down the platforms for 23 days. The outage cost Sony $171 million.

What is even more alarming is how much easier it is for even the novice to become a hacker. When computers were still fairly new, and the internet was just blossoming, users had to have an immense knowledge of computing and coding skills to create a hack.

Dowling said that now any high school student who wants to try hacking or someone who is down on their luck can become a hacker. He said that if you go onto the dark web you can find a hack kit readily available. He said users usually just have to pledge to give a portion of whatever they are able to obtain to the person who provided the kit.

These types of hacks can allow a person to monitor your computer and keystrokes, so they can get personal information from you, including sensitive information like personal banking passwords.

Dowling said training is the key to keeping information protected and making employees aware of potential hacking attempts. He also added that keeping up with current virus protection is another key.

“The threat level is constantly changing so your security needs to always change,” said Dowling.

Kennedy said that his staff will receive new training to safeguard against any further attempts.

Being aware of the current threat can save you from getting your information posted in places for people who only want to do harm can get it.

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